It’s typical for movies involving drugs to make everything onscreen look dirty, but the atmosphere in “Twelve” has a sheen to it that’s almost immaculate. The characters aren’t the ones you’d expect to see in a film like this, either – they’re trust-fund babies living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and even when they wind up in the bad part of town, their naivete makes them seem less vulnerable. Although lots of people take drugs to escape reality, the world these characters live in is so perfect that drugs come off as just another perk they take for granted.
“Twelve” is one of those films that’s got a bunch of characters who each hold parts of the plot that make up the whole, but the fulcrum here is a dealer named White Mike (Chace Crawford), the go-to guy for teenagers who want to get stoned. Since losing his mother to cancer a few years ago, Mike’s been pretty introverted and indifferent, even when he’s around his childhood friend, Molly (Emma Roberts). The only relationship that holds some meaning for him is the one he has with another dealer named Lionel (50 Cent), whom he assists in selling a drug called Twelve – it’s so new that it costs $1,000 a hit, which is kind of steep even for Jessica (Emily Meade), a socialite from a wealthy family.
There are plenty of other wealthy teenagers here, but their lives aren’t as splendiferous as you’d think. The most troubled of the bunch would probably be Chris (Rory Culkin) – on top of how uncomfortable he is around his dream girl, Sara (Esti Ginzburg), he’s also got to deal with his brother, Claude (Billy Magnussen), a recovering addict with an arsenal of guns and swords in his room. So jealous is Claude of his brother for getting all of their mom’s (Alexandra Neil) affection that the thought of using those weapons on Chris grows more tempting every day.
With this many characters crammed into a 93-minute film, it’s really something to see the actors making them work rather than just keeping them afloat.
In spite of how much older they are than the characters they’re playing, they stay true to the innocence they represent, which makes it all the more effective to see how they go about losing it. Sure, life’s just one big party at that age, but how do you come to terms with reality when the party’s over?
By Jorge Vargas
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